Conflicts & War

Pyongyang launches missile, suspends Seoul bilateral military pact

Seoul, Nov 23 (EFE).- North Korea responded to the partial suspension of a bilateral military agreement announced Wednesday by Seoul by launching a ballistic missile that failed in mid-flight and saying it is completely abandoning the pact, originally designed to reduce tension in border areas.

In a defense ministry statement published Thursday by state agency KCNA, Pyongyang said its army “will never again be subject to the North-South military agreement of Sep. 19” and will resume “all measures that had been suspended under the North-South military agreement.

Seoul had said Wednesday that it is suspending a clause in the agreement to resume military surveillance operations on the border in response to the Tuesday launch of a spy satellite by North Korea.

Pyongyang fired an unknown ballistic missile late Wednesday in the direction of the East Sea, which “is presumed to have failed,” according to a statement from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The suspension of the 2018 military agreement, which reflected the brief rapprochement both Koreas experienced five years ago and was an important step to reduce military tension in border areas, marks another increase in tensions on the peninsula.

“We will cancel the military measures taken to prevent military tension and clashes in all areas, including land, sea, air and others, and we will deploy more powerful Armed Forces and new models of weapons in the areas around the Military Demarcation Line,” which divides the militarized strip that divides both countries in two, the KCNA text read.

It accused the South of having turned the military agreement into “mere wet paper” with its “intentional and provocative actions.”

The text defended the launch of the North Korean reconnaissance satellite – condemned by a large part of the international community as a violation of United Nations sanctions – as a “right to self-defense and a fair and legitimate exercise of sovereignty.”

After denuclearization negotiations with Washington failed in 2019, Pyongyang approved a weapons modernization plan. This includes deploying military satellites and has involved carrying out countless missile tests in addition to rejecting the restart of dialogue and seeking a greater rapprochement with Beijing and Moscow.

Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington reinforced military cooperation with Tokyo and strengthened their deterrence mechanism by increasingly deploying US strategic assets to the peninsula, as is the case of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, which arrived this week in Busan. EFE

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